Mie theory is used to study the influence of the particle-size distribution (PSD) on the backscattering ratio for case 1 and 2 waters. Several in situ measured PSDs from coastal water and the open ocean, representing typical case 2 and 1 waters, were used in this investigation. Calculation of the backscattering ratio requires integration of the PSD over a much broader size range than is usually measured. Consequently extrapolation from fitted data is necessary. To that purpose the measured data are fitted with hyperbolic (Junge) and the two-component model of the PSD. It is shown that the result of extrapolation, hence the backscattering ratio, critically depends on the chosen PSD model. For a particular PSD model the role of submicrometer particles and the applied integration limits on the backscattering ratio is discussed. The use of the hyperbolic PSD model largely overestimates the number of small (submicrometer) particles that significantly contribute to backscattering and consequently leads to an erroneously high backscattering ratio. The two-component model proves to be an adequate PSD model for use in backscattering/scattering calculations providing satisfactory results complying with experimental data. The results are relevant for the inversion of remotely sensed data and the prediction of optical properties and the concentration of phytoplankton pigments, suspended sediment, and yellow substance.
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